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Estimates Will Help Fill in Crime Statistics Gap

Transition to NIBRS crime statistics ongoing

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When the annual Crime in the United States (CIUS), 2021 data is released this fall, it will look different from previous releases. CIUS 2021 will only represent state-level data and federal data reported by law enforcement. In conjunction with CIUS, the FBI will release a trend study that will look at a year-over-year change in violent crime and property crime.

The reason for the change is that not every law enforcement agency in the U.S. has successfully moved to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) for reporting their crime data to the FBI. With support from the FBI, some agencies have been reporting crime statistics via NIBRS for more than 20 years. After the CJIS Advisory Policy Board adopted the recommendation in 2015 to retire the traditional Summary Reporting System and transition to the more comprehensive NIBRS by January 2021, more agencies made the switch to NIBRS reporting. Every state is now NIBRS compliant and can accept NIBRS data. A few major cities, however, are still working on the transition.

Crime estimates will fill in the gaps where data is not available this year. Estimation has been associated with the release for more than 50 years. This year, FBI data experts will use robust estimation tools, developed in collaboration with the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, to create the most accurate crime estimates possible during this transition period.

Although this year may present a challenge for those studying and addressing crime in the short term, in the long term, NIBRS will be a more effective system. It will have better data and will help law enforcement and communities improve public safety.

How Crime in the United States Will Look Different This Year

During this transition year, participation has remained too low for a representative sample. This year, the UCR Program will offer a limited release of Crime in the United States.

That release will include:

  • a trend study comparing 2020 and 2021 crime data using some of the new NIBRS estimation data
  • state-level data
  • federal data

The release will not include:

  • national view tables

The FBI will continue to work with law enforcement partners to increase the number of agencies participating in NIBRS so full statistics can be released in the coming years.

“Genuine community policing is all about transparency, information sharing, and collaboration on strategies that make everyone safer. NIBRS is another tool to help the community fulfill that mission,” said San Antonio Police Department Chief William P. McManus of NIBRS. “NIBRS is another tool to help law enforcement fulfill our commitment to the community and our mission.”

The FBI continues to work with law enforcement nationwide to ensure their transition to NIBRS. As of June 1, more than 12,000 law enforcement agencies are reporting their information to NIBRS. This outpaces last year, when less than 11,000 agencies reported NIBRS data for the entire year. All reported data will still be available on the Crime Data Explorer.